Going to the dentist is super hard. Mom fights with them sometimes with her hands and it's hard because of the sharp instruments. Does anyone have this experience and what might have worked?

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Well--I'm only 61 and I don't love going to dentist either---being claustrophobic and having 2-3 people hanging over me is emotionally brutal--having your teeth scaled is no treat!
I ask for nitrous and that really lets me "forget" what's going on. Is this a possibility for your mom?

Depending on the plaque buildup, maybe she could get by with only one "deep cleaning" per year and just a light cleaning--no scaling, the other time. If she is only going once a year now, try and see if a mild sedative taken an hour before the cleaning would help. No doubt the dentist has encountered MANY patients who don't tolerate ANYTHING going on, whether it be a cleaning, fillings--whatever.

I used to work for a dentist and he did prescribe Valium for our skittish patients. You just need to be sure someone is there to drive them home.

DAILY brushing and flossing is key to maintaining a clean mouth. Hoping she can still do that for herself---this will go miles towards making the dentist visit less awful for her.
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Some hygienists are trained in dealing with the elderly and visiting facilities

Give mom Tylenol an hour before appointment to relax her and put a lap blanket over her chest and arms - sit next to her or in front of her and talk to her or hold her hand - give her rinse water in a paper cup so she doesn't have the shock of the cold spray

Put headphones on her and play music to distract her

Bribe her with a treat - we're almost done and then we're going to go get pancakes or Starbucks or whatever 
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